Mrs. Gump Offers Insight Into Our Times

by Kevin Burton

     One of my friends sent the following post on Facebook:

   “You come home from work and everyone you ever dated is on your front porch. Respond using just three words…and go!”

   My response, “Holy Kodachrome Batman!”

   One of my better lines I think.

   But to get it you have to know that Paul Simon’s song “Kodachrome” contains the lyric “If you took all the girls I knew when I was single, brought them all together for one night..”  You also must remember the old Batman TV show where sidekick Robin had all the phony-sounding exclamations, “Holy this Batman! Holy that,” based on what was going on it the current show.

   Not sure anyone under 40 would get it.

   I usually don’t answer such posts on Facebook. If I answered them all I wouldn’t have time left over to write this blog, or to eat, or shower.

   Anyway, it got me thinking about song lyrics and lines from movies that you use in real life because they just fit.

   Actually that’s another one I see on Facebook. Something like, “If you’re not OK with me putting song lyrics into casual conversation, we can’t be friends.” That makes me smile.

   We’re talking about shared cultural knowledge here.  It’s one of the hallmarks of communication and humor. When I was living in Mexico where I didn’t have that depth of cultural background, I felt the lack. I was tongue-tied in more ways than one.

   Here’s another example of shared cultural experience. Bob Ley, the best journalist ESPN has ever had, retired last year after 40 years on the job.  Ley among other things is a big Beatles fan.

   So in honoring Ley on his last broadcast, Jeremy Schaap sent him into retirement by saying, “I think we can say you passed the audition.”

    That was a reference to John Lennon’s words after the famous rooftop concert, the last the Beatles would ever do. Lennon said, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

   I am sure you can think of other examples. 

   I wonder, will the current cultural fragmentation will make it increasingly difficult for Americans to enjoy this kind of humor? We all used to react to the general national discussion. Now increasingly we don’t see the same things. Even the so-called “news” is a television product aimed at the two post-national tribes. 

  I have already lost some cultural fluency. If you made some illusion referring to lines from a rap song I would have no idea what you were talking about.  None.

   In the old days, if you told me about a minor problem, I could tell you, “Hey, I never promised you a rose garden,” without being a country music fan.  Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden” was in the larger conversation.

   You know the movie line I find myself going back to more and more these days?  It’s the main character’s mother saying, “Stupid is as stupid does,” in the movie Forrest Gump.

   The phrase has entered the American lexicon.

   The Urban Dictionary explains it this way, “It means that an intelligent person who does stupid things is still stupid. You are what you do.”

   I’m guessing the phrase has entered the world lexicon. Couldn’t find a statistic on how many languages Forrest Gump was translated into, but I am sure it was several. Plus, “stupid is as stupid does” a universal truth.

   Take in as much “news” as you can stand. Scroll on Facebook just a few minutes.  How many times can you use Mrs. Gump’s words?

    So, here’s my nomination for Mrs. Gump as one of the great philosophers of our time. 

   Do I hear a second?

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